As I catch up from being away at the Writer's Digest Conference (read more than 100 posts with info here!), guest blogger Jane Koenen Bretl is filling in with some more advice on the benefits of blogging!
When I started my blog jane, candid in January 2009, it was my starting point to create visibility and web presence for my work, and explore a whole new avenue of writing. Inspired by the December 2008 Writer’s Digest Editor’s Intensive, through blogging I found a voice that can be the start of my author platform; it took me in a new, unexpected direction that I may not have pursued, at least at this point in my writing career.
The benefits of blogging to an aspiring writer are numerous, but a most unexpected, helpful and frankly delightful outcome has been the relationships I have developed with other writers.
I actively seek out writing blogs, and by participating in author blog tours, networking through thoughtful commenting, and trolling through the blogrolls of other writers, I have met many other writers who have provided useful advice and much encouragement.
As a result, I’ve hosted an oft-published author at my home while he was on a 20-state book signing tour. I’ve hosted guest-blogging authors who brought both a new audience and increased credibility to my site. I’ve been a guest blogger on other wonderful blogs (like this one!) that provide a new, exciting forum for my work. And I’ve developed friendships with many writers who share selflessly of their experience.
It is a curious concept to me, this idea of meeting others online. At first I had preconceived (mostly negative) notions about online relationships, a prejudice lodged somewhere between online dating, ranting chat rooms, and all-night Dungeons and Dragon-esque gaming sessions. (Not that there is anything inherently wrong with those activities, they are just not my scene.)
I thought real people made real friendships face-to-face, not sitting alone in a computer chair with fingers tapping at the keys. Preconceived notions can and do close doors.
Blogging has instead opened doors for me to meet other writers from around the world, kindred spirits surely not on my life’s path otherwise. It has opened windows through which I can watch the progress of other writers, and see both the pitfalls they have faced and the successes they have earned through hard work and great talent. There is a collective sense of celebration when a blogger-friend reaches a writing milestone. It inspires me.
This summer, I had the opportunity to take a fond blogger relationship to a new place— face-to-face. Judy Clement Wall wrote one of the first comments I ever received on my blog, offering kind words right when I was nervously venturing into unfamiliar territory.
I in turn visited her site and her words struck a cord with me immediately. I have been an avid reader of her blog zebra sounds ever since. Like many bloggers, she kept the personal details of her home address and her family private; it just feels safer that way. However, as I prepared for a long-planned summer vacation to the West Coast (yes, I was reading Judy’s blog instead of packing), I realized through one of her off-handed references that this blog-buddy might live in the very area we were to visit! After some off-line emails, we learned it was indeed the same town. Serendipity strikes again. We made plans to meet at a coffee shop during my trip, since we already knew we shared an addiction to coffee as well as a love of writing.
Ironically, me, the online relationship snob, was as nervous to actually meet her as I might have been on a first date: Would I recognize her from her photo? Would she be as friendly as she seemed? It felt surreal, this crossing of worlds (maybe I had already drank too much coffee that day???).
Of course, the meeting was delightful. We shared blogging advice (how did you add that cool widget?), warm mutual admiration, and encouragement for next steps in our writing careers, all right along with our hot caffeinated beverages. It felt like a reunion, not a first meeting.
Ironically, the act of blogging can be much more personal than the typical conversations between new acquaintances, what some describe as the nakedness of putting it out there for all to see, sharing these words that come from some deep place inside. This has been my biggest revelation about blogging.
So as I strive to build my author platform, increase my online visibility, create a potential audience for my work, and generally make waves out there in the social media world of the publishing industry, I can also reap the benefits of my blogging community and all that they share.
Considering it? Give it a try.
[Editor's note: Be sure to read Judy Clement Wall's companion blog post to this, "(Sometimes it's not) All About Me"]